SOUTHWEST ASIA – Finding time to travel home to their families can be a challenge for many servicemembers, due to the sporadic movement and occasional deployments a military life can bring. It is a much larger challenge, however, when two family members in different branches of service try to reconnect.
It had been a year since Air Force Master Sgt. Niihau Ramsey has seen his son, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brad Ramsey, until luck brought them together here.
The two reconnected at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing when Brad -- a Seabee -- traveled through Southwest Asia during his redeployment back home to Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss., after spending eight months at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. During his deployment, Ramsey performed preventive and corrective maintenance on civil engineer support equipment.
"I found out about a month ago our unit might be coming through here on our way home, and really hoped everything would work out so I could spend some time with my dad," said Brad, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11. "There were a few hiccups along the way, but luckily it worked out."
Deployments aren't unusual for either of the Ramseys, who have five deployments between them. Niihau, mission support flight superintendent for Detachment 1 of the 609th Air Communications Squadron, is here for a bit longer than a normal six- or 12-month deployment. He is permanently stationed here for a two-year tour.
"Being here for so long without my family is tough," said Niihau, who's nine months into his tour. "What a great opportunity this has been, because I don't know when I will see him next."
The two have spent a week socializing in the evenings and even watched the NFL season-opening game as the two cheered on their favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, as they beat the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants.
The most memorable moment for the father-son duo was logging onto Skype and reconnecting with Niihau's wife and Brad's mom, Amy, who lives in Cameron, N.C.
"It was great for all three of us to be connected together," Niihau said. "I know it meant a lot to her to be able to communicate to us at the same time."
Deployments can be a challenge for any family, but when an opportunity arises to reconnect and bond, the Ramseys said, they make the best of it. Sometimes the sporadic movement of the military life can work out for the best.